Tuesday, September 16, 2014

We Love Our Hagies So Much That They Had to Come See Us

So followers of happenings over the years at the NCRS know that we have used Hagie sprayers for a long time.  How long you ask?  Well I'm not sure, but it's been a long time.  Back when I actually did work at the NCRS, I put many hours in this 8240 model that was modified for plots.  I really liked the boom in front where you could see everything.  And that was our second one. (Didn't have a pic of that first one handy.)  It did great for what we used it for, and led to many foliar fertilizer product discoveries. (At the time it did seem big.  Probably from climbing up and down the ladder so many times during the day.)
Phil still does all of the herbicide, fungicide, insecticide, dessicant and production topdress applications in this 284 model.  It's got some years on it, but still does a great job.  Like a classic car, we just can't part with it.
And of course you know that we have an STS 10 model since 2011 that has been converted for plot use.  Recall that there are 6-100 gallon tanks and a bank of smaller tanks which can be mixed into a treatment application on the go.  Doug did the early transformations before transferring to the company Fleet division, and Tim has made more modifications to what it is today.  Surely the finest plot sprayer on the planet.  And probably on others as well.  Not sure about Neptune.  (You probably thought I would say another one, didn't you?)   But this one is way too complicated for me to operate, so I just take pictures and dream about the 8240.   
So with our long time loyalty to the Hagie brand, it was only a matter of time before they paid us a visit.  And that was last Friday, September 12.  And while they were here to see the NCRS, they also made time to attend the opening of the IQ Hub and participate as a board member of the Responsible Nutrient Management Foundation.  Sadly I was out of town and didn't get to say Hi.  But below Stephanie points out some of the modifications to Alan Hagie (yes, that Hagie), the President and CEO of Hagie Manufacturing.  I can see in his look that he likes what he sees in our plot Hagie.  Not sure if they will offer a line of sprayers with a 15 foot boom though.
And here is Alan, on the right, with a couple members of the company management staff, Newt (left) and Amber (middle).  They are actually at the Hagie sprayer part of the 4R display in the IQ Hub.  It's very cool and you should make a trip to St. Johns to see it.  The IQ Hub is now open for business. (Tell them you know me and they'll let you in for free!)
So that was all pretty exciting, wasn't it?  Not sure we will top that visit for a long time.  At least until they come back or something.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

RFD's are wrapped up and put away till next year

So just like that and they're gone.  Research Field Days for 2014 are but a memory. Hope you had a chance to join us.  There was certainly plenty of opportunity with 16 scheduled tours.  And last Thursday (August 29) was the last one.  The NCRS looked good and fresh the whole time thanks to the ample rainfall through the summer.  We didn't even have to add water to these sunflowers on the Demonstration Farm.  The first RFD tour week was shown earlier in a blog post.  This is to tie up loose ends and show more stuff.
 Prior to the arrival of the first bus there is a difference of opinion over tour directions.
 Well they got it figured out as the first bus rolled in and passengers debussed to start the demonstrations tour.
 I didn't get a close-up of Jeff last time, but here he is showing the root digs and something new.  He has a fertilizer demonstration of corn growing in these new cylinders.  Hard to see in the pic, but the Liquid corn is a little taller and darker green that that of the 10-34-0 or dry DAP.
There was a schedule to be followed, and Phil sounds the rotation horn to make sure we stick to it.
 Here we see Kalvin showing a group the winter wheat demonstration.  It was planted several weeks ago so that you could see fertilizer effects on this tour.  You could.  (And I missed Kalvin last time too.)  School had started for the other interns, but Kalvin arranged his schedule so that he could be here for the last day.  Unless all of his teachers are reading this.  And why wouldn't they be?
Here is something Brian sets up each year.  Taste and see if you can tell differences in fertilizer sources for watermelon, cantaloupe and green pepper.  Summer work crew members Josh and Nick mind the store.  
When it was time to be trailered over to the replicated plot research on Farm 7, we were pulled by either Tim B or Ron.  Well I guess I mean that they drove the tractors that pulled the trailers.  That's Tim below ready for business.
 And there's Ron with no time to pose.  Thanks for the trips guys.
And here was something I thought was interesting.  Well since I talked about it for two weeks.  But it is a research plot on fertilizer sustainability.  Like what happens to yield and soil test after years of different fertilizer usage?  Well this is a long-term corn-soybean rotation of the same fertilizer programs in the same replicated plots each year under dryland conditions.  This is the fourth year.  For corn, a 180-30-60 plus micros program is followed for conventional liquid and dry fertilizers.  And of course there is an AgroLiquid recommendation as well with those reduced rate nutrients.  Two other treatments were nitrogen only (using reduced rate 28% with eNhance) and a treatment that applied the same actual rates of nutrients that were applied with AgroLiquid, but using conventional products.  (Note: In the conventional treatments, two years of potash is applied after the previous soybean crop to feed the next corn and soybean crops.)  Below we see ear (three consecutive) and root samples from the plot border rows of Rep 3, where we are.
The ears from the full rate conventional treatments and the AgroLiquid treatment are larger and darker yellow than the low rate conventional and especially the N only ears.  Similar with the roots, although the AgroLiquid roots covered more area.  Now this is a simple single sample, but it is telling. Certainly there is a P and K and micros response vs N only (trt 4).  Treatments 1 and 5 have the same pounds per acre of applied nutrients, yet the AgroLiquid is much larger in ear and root size.  But yield is what matters, and the AgroLiquid has the highest 3-year average yield by a good bit.  This difference is more than was expected, but this is what it was.  Also of note was the high average to date with the low rate conventional treatment (trt 1).  It was high the first two years, but dropped off to be 10 bu/A less than the full rate conventionals last year.  And based on appearance this year, it doesn't look sustainable here in year four.  But time will tell, and time is running out. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Farm to Fork 5K at the NCRS

So today was the first annual Farm to Fork charity 5K run/walk held at the NCRS.  It was to raise money for the Greater Lansing Food Bank.  Well it was a big success before the starting gun even sounded.  Between the sponsors and the more than 300 participants, some $20,000 was raised.  Not bad for a Saturday morning on a Labor Day weekend no less.  The Liquid ringleader was Eustaquia who spearheaded this event.  Here she is with the course map.  I will take credit for course layout.  I used our GPS equipment to make it an even 5K.  The challenge was getting a course to start and end at the same place.  But it all worked out for a scenic tour of Farms 3, 2, 1 and 5.
All of the many volunteers showed up at 6:30 this morning.  There were young and old who gave up a Saturday morning to help, and not just Liquid employees either.  And look who else showed up: Farm Guy!  Notice the cool shirt that was worn by runners and volunteers alike.
 Here is the shirt front.  It must have been a lot of work to run each shirt through a typewriter.
 And on the back is a list of all of the sponsors.  What a big list of generous donors.  Thanks.
There were over 300 participants plus supporters roaming around after getting registered and filled up on the pre-race breakfast.
 One of the walkers is NCRS Researcher Stephanie and her three kids here.  Husband Ryan was getting his race shirt on and another donut after he realized that a 5K is over 3 miles.  Darn metrics anyway.
Galynn makes important pre-race announcements.  Unfortunately his bright yellow wrap must have scared everyone away.  Darn Sooners anyway.
And they're off at exactly 8 am.  A perfect morning, sunny and 70 degrees.
 There is quite a trail of runners and walkers hitting the NCRS course.
I had the pleasure of driving the lead Gator, which I found to be far preferable to actually running. Margie from the office rode with me and took pictures. The leader from the start was Eric, who used to work at the NCRS years ago when he was in High School. He was an outstanding track star back then too, and has kept running now as a 25 year old CPA in Grand Rapids.  He lived a couple miles from the NCRS and used to run to and from work.  I had to keep the Gator at high speed so he wouldn't pass me.  Here they run on the North end of Farm 3 where we have cover crop planted after winter wheat.
And who should be out offering encouragement but Farm Guy.  He brought his John Deere 60 to get around the course to keep everyone motivated.
Here is a group of the walking corps making their way down Farm 2.  That's Ryan with son Gabe on his shoulders.  Stephanie told him it was a farm tour, so he came in jeans and field boots ready to check crops.  He was disappointed that no one had lenses or shovels for some crop scouting.
Eric left the rest behind as he crossed the finish line in 18:19, which was two minutes ahead of second place.  Not bad for a trail race through fields and grass.  I also think his having worked here for several years and being familiar with the farms was an advantage.  
Back on the course we see Nick's wife Andrea giving Levi and little Ruby a ride while David keeps pace.  It's hard enough pushing one kid in a stroller in grass, so two makes her do extra work.  But she's smiling like a good mother and walker.
Hey, wrong way!  Oh that's Eric running back on the course to meet up with others.  Or maybe he's trying to win first and second place.
Running back on Farm 5.  Less than 1K to go now.
On the other end of Farm 5 we see Mrs. Wilhm and Mrs. Zelinko.  No telling what they're talking about. Either corn fertilizers or their wacky husbands.
 March on brave citizens.
OMG!  It's Farm Guy and Troy's wife Jill!  I hope Troy doesn't find out.  Where is he anyway?  I haven't seen him all morning.
And wouldn't you know that no sooner had the race ended that it started raining.  Eustaquia made sure all of the loose ends were covered, including the weather.
What a great success, especially for the first one of these.  I guess that means that there will likely be a second annual.  Whenever that is, come on out.  It's for a great cause.  And of course, fun will ensue.

Monday, August 25, 2014

NCRS Summer Interns: Back to School Time

So I don't know how many times I've said it, but time really does go by too fast.  It seems like our MSU summer interns only just showed up to go to work at the NCRS, and now it's already time for them to leave.  They were just children then.  And now I would grant them all full fledged agronomist status. I've shown them all several times in the blog while they conduct their various intern duties.  We were truly fortunate to have such a great and hard working group.  Well they are Spartans after all.  Below we see Emily, Jimmy, Kalvin and Kelly suited up for the company scavenger hunt earlier this summer.
A little background perhaps?
Emily is from Dansville, MI and will be a Junior this fall.  She worked in the Field Crop research area this summer. She grew up on a pumpkin and livestock farm and is majoring in Crop and Soil Sciences. She was always active in 4-H and FFA, and was a state officer during her Freshman year at MSU.  All of the interns have a special research project, and her's was to evaluate the effects of different fertilizers on alfalfa yield and quality.  She is interested in research and wants to continue on towards a Master's degree, possibly in forages.
Jimmy is from Clarkston, MI and will be a Senior this fall in Crop and Soil Science. He worked in Specialty Crop research this summer, and said he was glad to be able to expand his crop knowledge beyond just field crops.  He has also previously worked as an intern for MSU extension out in the Thumb, and enjoys crop scouting.  His summer project was evaluation of sulfur and magnesium foliars on potatoes.  Jimmy hope to make a career as an ag industry agronomist.
Kalvin is from Perry, MI and will be Sophomore in Crop and Soil Science this fall.  He worked in the Field Crop group.  He grew up on a field crop farm and loves working in agriculture...outside in the field.  He is an FFA veteran, having been a regional officer his senior year, and enjoyed the state competitions.  He started raising Honeybees many years ago and still maintains hives back home. Kalvin's summer project was soil sampling over time following broadcast and sidedress applications of different liquid nitrogens.  When he graduates in a few years, he would like to continue working with growers as an agronomist.
And Kelly is from Litchfield, MI and will be a Senior in  Ag Food and Natural Resources.  She said this is a broad base agri-business major.  She too was active in 4-H and FFA and even considered being a vo-ag high school teacher for awhile.  But now is looking to work in agri-business in the future. Her summer project was evaluation of different foliar fertilizers on Concord grape bunch and grape growth.  It was a good research experience she said.

It was very rewarding to hear them tell how much they all learned this summer during their final reports.  They also respected the amount of responsibility that they were given.  Below we see that they can go from the field to a business meeting in no time flat.  In addition to the field work, they were also very helpful in several company events, such as the Corporate Growth Conference below.
So it will be nice to look back on these pictures and remember how much we all enjoyed having them at the NCRS this summer.   And hopefully we can stay in touch as they graduate and move on into the challenging yet rewarding world of agriculture.  I would recommend any of them.  As I said earlier, they are Spartans after all.  

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Bucket of Ice Water for Reid

So no doubt you have seen the ALS charity events of late where people are getting buckets of ice water dumped on their heads.  Amazing how much money has been raised so quickly.  Now it seems the challenge is to be more and more inventive.  Well field agronomist Reid was challenged, and decided to carry it out at the NCRS last Friday afternoon.  No ordinary bucket would do.  So he selected a backhoe bucket.  Well a bucket is a bucket.  And it was filled with ice and water.  And yes it was cold.
Reid assumes the position.  There were probably a dozen people from the farm there to witness the event.  Fortunately someone suggested that Reid should probably kneel.  You know, we don't want to damage the backhoe.
 Splash!  A direct hit.
                                             Refreshing!  At least I think that's what he said.
 He didn't have a regular towel, so I offered a paper towel.  Don't want him to catch cold.
 And Reid's wife Kacie flew all the way from Texas to witness her husband in action. 
OK, I probably shouldn't have done that last bit, but it's hard to stop.  It was a worthy fete, and he made more challenges.  So congratulations for the contribution.  Now go enjoy the Pure Michigan weekend.

Friday, August 22, 2014

2014 Research Field Days Are Underway

So this past week we hosted the NCRS part of the Research Field Days.  There were 3 farm tours each on both Tuesday and Thursday.  Certainly one of the big draws was to see the big ear of corn fertilized with AgroLiquid.  I don't know if so many people came to see that, or to listen to Stephanie.  Here they got to do both.
But seriously folks, there were hundreds of visitors from all over the country here on those two days, with repeat performances next week.  In fact, the message is now worldwide as I talk to Mike Hanson of RFD TV who was there to record some of the happenings.  Mike and I are buds, having been the host on one of my appearances on the RFD Live TV show.
Part of the field day is touring different demonstrations on our Farm 12, the "demonstration" farm. Here we see Tim talking to a group about soybeans and fertilizer placement options.  Before that he showed how one of our planters is set up for liquid application.
Brian tells all who listen about using Liquid on potatoes and dug some up to show and tell.
Jeff is talking about fertilizer effects on corn roots.  Can you see them?  Me neither.  I will try to get closer next time.  But reviews were very favorable.
Just because you are an intern doesn't mean that you don't get put to work showing the demonstration plots.  Emily talks to a group about winter wheat fertilizer options.  It is  a good stand of winter wheat that was planted earlier just for this demonstration.  Accommodating, aren't we?  And I had hoped to get a picture of everyone in action, so that is part of Kalvin's head beneath the arrow.  So he too was working.  I'll do better next time.
Moving off the demonstration farm onto some actual research plots was next.  Here is horticulturalist Jake explaining all there is to know about the high density apple orchard.  Even though he has only been here a short time, he is well versed in this area and did a good job of explaining it to the group. Although the vast majority of those in attendance only eat, rather than grow apples, the information was good to know.  All farmers like to learn about growing stuff.
Stephanie talks about the importance of sulfur fertility on growing top yielding corn.  Sulfur is often a limiting nutrient, and AgroLiquid has the products to take care of it.  In making input decisions in low corn price years, don't cut something that will produce many times the value of the input.
One of the six tours was rained out.  That was Tuesday late afternoon.  Well I will say that in the 20+ years of doing farm tours, this is the first time that we have been driven indoors by rain. (We ended up with 0.6") But we have always had our Plan B slide show (or PowerPoint show) ready in waiting. Well this time it paid off as we made our tour stops on the screen by showing pictures and explaining what they would have seen.  Like interns Jimmy and Kelly here on vegetables and vine crops. They even brought some in to show.  Much better than 2 hours of shadow puppet shows.
Finally new field agronomist John Leif talked about the 4R program for nutrient stewardship.  That being the Right Source, Rate, Time and Place.  AgroLiquid nutrition can get you there for all of that.
I actually talked at a stop on AgroLiquid sustainabilty to answer the question:  Are AgroLiquid programs sustainable over time for both yield and soil test?  Well I didn't get a "selfie" but it was good. Well I thought so anyway.  As I said, the fun begins again next Tuesday.  If you haven't been yet, now's your chance.